KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. --
Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic is different for every family and for certain military families the road has a few extra twists and turns.
Military families where both parents wear the uniform grow accustomed to overcoming challenges when it comes to maintaining work-life balance. They juggle their responsibilities at work such as alternating shifts to accommodate kids sporting events, after-school activities and even transportation to-and-from school.
Right now, all of the tools they use such as good communication and time management are facing a new twist as they cope with a remain-in-place order from the governor while still going to work because military service remains essential. They are also home-schooling their children.
“I already know I wasn’t meant to be a school teacher,” said Staff Sgt. Loretta Meserve, a command support staff for the maintenance group, on the biggest curve the pandemic has thrown her family. “We’ve resorted to a lot of P.E. time … It’s been challenging to be creative with every subject.”
Her husband Tech. Sgt. Kyle Meserve, a non-destructive inspection technician, agrees saying “it’s difficult to get them to concentrate,” speaking of his 1st grade and preschool aged children. He also added that although his school sent home a packet of work for his 1st grade son, it’s not always easy to decide how to explain the material.
“Honestly, I feel like I’m shooting from the hip,” said Master Sgt. James Whaling, the interim AGE shop supervisor, who also has school-aged children. “When I do come up with a way to explain things I sometimes get ‘well, that is not how our teacher showed us.’”
As this situation replays itself in households everywhere, the Airman & Family Readiness Center is working to provide resources to help parents in their new roles as educators.
One bright spot for the Meserve family is the online Khan Academy, which provided everything from an effective way to schedule time for home-schooled children to the curriculum itself.
“Getting online with the Khan Academy has helped a lot,” said Kyle Meserve, adding that it helped add some direction when he and his wife felt like they were flying blind.
Finding that resource is as simple as going to the 173rd Fighter Wing website (https://www.173fw.ang.af.mil/COVID-19/) under resources selecting the Family & Children tab and following the link to Khan Academy. It’s free and signing up just requires establishing an account. There is another tab for Helpteaching.com where a person can get a wide variety of teaching materials like tests, printable games and worksheets based on grade level and subject.
Another available tool is tutor.com/military, which is free for military personnel. The program provides on-demand academic support 24/7 online in more than 100 subjects for grades kindergarten through college students. More information on this program can be found here: https://www.173fw.ang.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2163955/free-online-tutoring-available-to-military-and-dod-civilian-families/.
These are only a few examples of the resources available to military families as they navigate the new challenge of homeschooling their children.
Gaudinski says getting the word out is really the hardest part. “Once people know where to find these resources they are better able to get their home schooling on track and will be a lot better prepared to help their children finish out the school year.”
For these families and others who are both military the wing has split personnel into two shifts as a way to increase social distance in the work environment, helping ensure continuity in the event an Airmen contracts the virus. It also means that both parents will have to take turns being a teacher, which is something that having a set curriculum and schedule can help the “tag-team” effort from week to week.
“It bookmarks where Owen stops and I just log in and see it,” said Loretta Meserve on stepping into the homeschool role after a week in the office. “I really like that it’s doing progress checks, for example it did a math quiz and it said he needs to work on 2nd grade math instead of first.”
The sense of feeling thrown into the situation is prevalent among Airmen and their families, which is reflective of the entire pandemic—an unprecedented situation requiring flexibility and adaptation at work and at home. Gaudinski hopes that these resources help lighten the load.
The presence of external links does not indicate endorsement by the 173rd Fighter Wing, Air National Guard, or U.S. Air Force of the external Web site, or the information, products or services contained therein. ~Ed.